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Roofing Warranties 101: What You Should Know Before You Buy?

February , 2023 | 8 min. read

By Nicole Corson

person signing warranty paperwork

Replacing a roof is expensive. In fact, it’s one of the most expensive home improvement projects that homeowners face if they stay in a home for more than a decade or so. When it comes time to make the decision to get your roof replaced, it can feel a lot like plunging yourself into the deep end.

You feel alone, confused, and unsure of the process, only to have a salesman take advantage of you and sell you something you don’t necessarily need nor want. At RoofCrafters, we make it our mission to educate homeowners like you on the process of their roofing projects from start to finish. Part of that journey includes choosing the roof workmanship warranty option that’s the best fit for you and your home.

You'd want coverage on anything that you're about to dish out some serious cash for right? Think of a warranty as an insurance policy that covers your investment in a new roof for a certain period of time. Don't worry, we'll go ahead and break it down for you. In this article, you'll learn what a roofing warranty is, how long they last, and what they do and don't cover. 


what is a roofing warranty and do i need one


lifetime roof warranty icon

What is a Roofing Warranty?


No two warranties are written alike. A roof workmanship warranty works like insurance in that it protects your investment from manufacturer defects and shoddy workmanship. Most roofing systems come with several warranties.

A manufacturer’s warranty typically covers both the roofing materials (shingles or metal) and underlayment for 20-50 years. If you purchase a material-only warranty, should the shingles or metal deteriorate before the warranty is up, the manufacturer would be required to replace them. We recommend that you read the fine print, most material-only roofing warranties are prorated after 5 years or 10 years depending on the materials and brand.

A workmanship warranty has to do with how well the roof system was installed. If your roof were to spring a leak after it was installed, this usually indicates poor workmanship. A labor-only warranty would require the roofing company to fix any leaks for a specified amount of time after it was installed. However, only a full-system warranty covers both labor and material defects.

Business man pointing the text Who Is Accountable?

This type of home roofing warranty typically covers things like shingles, underlayment, and flashings, along with other materials used in the installation of a roof. Full-system warranties cover the full cost of repairing leaks, including labor and material. As a result, this type of warranty is more expensive than either material-only or labor-only warranties. Well worth the peace of mind!



How Long Does a Roofing Material Warranty Last?


That depends on how the warranty is worded. Even if a manufacturer or roofing contractor tells you the warranty lasts for 25, 35, 50 years, or a lifetime, the actual term of coverage can be abridged depending on how the contract is worded.


For example, while the bold print may read “30 years” or “lifetime”, the fine print may indicate that the actual warranted value of the roof is reduced by 80% and drops 2% every year. Other exclusions can include such things as deterioration of underlayment, caulking, and/or flashing.

A big one in the fine print is misapplication, if your contractor installs the roof incorrectly, some manufacturers will void the material warranty.

What’s a Lifetime Roof Warranty?


While most asphalt shingles manufactured today come with a lifetime warranty that’s good for as long as you own your home, you should be aware that most come with a provision that has a specified non-prorated period that typically only lasts 10 years. After that, you’ll be required to pay a portion of the replacement cost that’s determined by the age of the shingles. (This is another reason you need to carefully read the warranty in its entirety.)



What’s a No Dollar Limit Warranty?


This type of warranty is only available through the manufacturer. Considered the Cadillac of manufacturers' warranties, it provides the homeowner with the satisfaction of having the manufacturer take full responsibility for the repair or replacement of a defective roof, no matter how much it takes to affect the repair including material and labor. This kind of warranty only covers damage caused by defective material or faulty installation. Not storm damage or any acts of mother nature.

Do Roof Warranties Cover Hail Damage?

Signs of Hail Damage on a shingle roof

Unless this is specified in the manufacturer's materials warranty, the answer is no. However, your homeowner’s policy plan should cover any damage caused by hail, unless it is listed as an exclusion.

There are manufacturers who produce impact-resistant roofing materials that would be covered by the manufacturer if they were damaged during a hail event.

Can You Transfer a Roof Warranty?


That depends on several things. First of all, the home warranty roof coverage must state that it is transferable, along with the terms of transfer. Typically, this means that a roof can be transferred to the next owner should you sell your home while your roof is still under warranty. Most manufacturers have time limits on the transfer. (Ex: free transfer within first 10 years) However, transferring may reduce the amount of coverage for the next owner. It may also require you or the new owner to pay a warranty transfer fee.

What Isn't Covered by a Roof Warranty?


Just as any homeowner’s policy has limitations and exclusions, so do roof warranties. Here are several things that aren’t covered by or can make a roof shingle warranty null and void. These include:

  1. Subsidiary damage to the structure or belongings in your home.
  2. Damage caused by standing water.
  3. Acts of God, such as earthquakes, tornadoes, lightning strikes, and storm damage.
  4. Fire damage
  5. Unauthorized repairs
  6. Negligence
  7. Improper attic ventilation
  8. Improper roof cleaning
  9. Improperly installed solar systems and satellite dishes

Are Roof Warranties Worth the Paper They’re Written On? 


Only if you purchased a manufacturer's complete roof system warranty. No matter how the warranty plan is worded, it isn’t worth a dime if the roofing company goes bankrupt or moves out of state. That’s why you need to thoroughly research any roofing company before you sign on the dotted line.

Check not only their reputation but how long they’ve been in business. Ask for references and speak with customers who have had their roofs replaced by any roofer you are considering. Asking for older references or ones that everything didn't go smoothly can prove to be beneficial.  You want to know how your contractor will handle problems if they arise.

Are you covered?

Avoid companies that have either bad reviews or no reviews, since the latter could indicate a company that is either brand new or one that has changed its name to avoid past liabilities. 

For guaranteed protection, you can hire a roofing contractor that can provide a manufacturer's full system warranty, which includes both the materials and the workmanship for a stated period of time. RoofCrafters is a GAF Master Elite and Certainteed Select contractor and we are eager to help you get your next roofing project started. You can schedule your inspection here. Or feel free to download our "Top 10 checklist" to better help you choose the right contractor.

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Nicole Corson

At RoofCrafters, our mission is to provide job opportunities for others to thrive and grow while making a meaningful impact within our communities.